Liverpool v Real Madrid – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
Liverpool host Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday hoping for another spectacular comeback in the UEFA Champions League. Last week’s resounding 3-1 win for Real means that Jurgen Klopp’s team need a 2-0 win or to win by three goals to progress in regulation time. Without their famous Anfield crowd and with just one win in nine matches on their home ground, it will be significantly more challenging for Liverpool.
Liverpool ended a six match losing run at Anfield with a late 2-1 win against Aston Villa this weekend. They have been struggling to score at home with six blanks in their eight previous matches at Anfield. On the road, Liverpool have been good but were poor last week in losing 3-1 in the first leg to Real Madrid.
The Reds’ recent home record in the Champions League at Anfield isn’t the best either. They drew 1-1 with Napoli last season before losing 3-2 to Atletico Madrid and being dumped out of Europe. This season saw a 0-2 defeat to Napoli but also a 1-0 win against Ajax.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool’s injury situation has not improved. With three top central defenders out for the season, it will again be Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak at the back. Jordan Henderson is still absent but Thiago Alcantara will surely start after Naby Keita had a disaster in the first leg. Curtis Jones missed the win over the weekend with knock.
Klopp has a big call up front with Mohamed Salah performing well and Diego Jota looking very dangerous but both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struggling. He could take a risk and start all four to try to turn the tie around.
The Reds will be massively motivated to turn around the 3-1 scoreline but their recent record at Anfield is absolutely awful and without their vocal fans, these big European comebacks are much less likely.
Klopp’s team will attack but know that their best route to progression is to win 2-0 so they may want to initially be more conservative and wait for the second half to take more risks.
Real Madrid Form
Madrid have been in excellent form of late, going 13 matches unbeaten with 11 wins and two draws. In the last seven days, they have beaten Liverpool 3-1 and Barcelona 2-1 at home to give real optimism that thy can win one, or both, of the Champions League and La Liga trophies this season.
Madrid reached this round have beaten Atalanta 4-1 on aggregate and have won four La Liga matches in a row.
Real Madrid Team News
Real Madrid will be without both of their first choice centre backs as both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane have COVID-19, though the former is injured anyway. Nacho and Eder Militao will line up at the back as they have done in the last two matches to good effect. Lucas Vazquez saw his season with a cruciate ligament injury against Barcelona and both Toni Kroos and Fede Valverde also picked up knocks in that match but should be fit.
Marco Asensio is fresh after being used as a substitute over the weekend and he will play on the right wing. Alvaro Odriozola will cover at right back with no Vazquez or Dani Carvajal available. Eden Hazard may make the bench after injury.
Real Madrid Motivation
Madrid will have full focus on this match despite their La Liga title race. They know a 2-0 Liverpool win puts them out so they will look to score and force Liverpool to score at least three times to take it to extra time. A fairly careful approach is expected to draw Klopp’s team out and exploit space behind the fullbacks like they did in the first leg.
Liverpool have won 1 of their last 9 matches at Anfield (2 draws, 6 losses)
Liverpool have failed to score in 6 of their last 8 matches at Anfield
The Reds have lost 2 of their last 4 home CL matches at Anfield (17 unbeaten before that)
Madrid are 13 matches unbeaten in all competitions (11 wins, 2 draws)
Real Madrid have won 7 of their last 11 away CL matches incl. wins at Ajax, Inter and Atlanta
Had this match been at a pumping Anfield, Liverpool would have been favourites to turn things around as they did against Barcelona in 2019. Without their 12th man and in the side’s current form at Anfield, Madrid are well set up to not only progress but perhaps to win the match itself too.